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Broken and Happy

by Max Barashenkov, images by Kevin Goss-Ross / 10.08.2010

Written on the painful crawl back.

I’m face-planting myself into the crash barrier, jumping and generally engaging with my inner animal. In front of me: Mike and Disco, the cracked-up Kiwi bird and the mystical penguin, spit their rhymes through easily the best set of the entire festival. PHfat destroy, there is simply no other word for it, utter death by bass. It’s great to see a band who don’t take themselves seriously – Mike’s monkey impersonation is the stuff of comic legends. This is not to say that they don’t take what they do seriously, one look at Narch’s professional solidity is enough. Their sign off – ‘Oh and in case you were wondering – we’re white, we’re very very white’ – elicits a general approving throat frenzy from the fiends. Later Mike tells me that drugs are bad for your superpowers. Good man…

Imagine Jimi Hendrix on lead, Chuck Berry on rhythm, Bob Marley somehow on drums, all run through a South African filter…(and as I think this, the projected embedded racism becomes self-aware. Fuck you SA, the land where political correctness and hyper-race-sensitivity is so firmly and deeply screwed up people’s asses that your words will without fail kick up a racial shit storm)…The BLK JKS bleed suave and collected cool – Jimi flails, moves and dances like I wish I could, it’s open-consciousness sex made into musical performance…

JR shows off his cold sore

There is a dust-covered Prius glooming under a tree, someone’s caring hand has written ‘I hate trees’ and ‘Big Oil’ and ‘This is gay’ on it in dirt. And that strange word – TRONS – with a backwards ‘N’ and horns on the ‘O’…why?…

Tumi kicks out the jams, the crowd roars back to the southern sing-along – “this shit sounds like rock ‘n roll” – New Holland, playing the FHM stage at the same slot, don’t. It’s sad to see Tumi, masterfully backed by members of Isochronous and Yesterday’s Pupil on the drums, deliver an entrancing South African interpretation of Rage Against The Machine to a much smaller crowd than those Bellville cock-fags. Somebody please buy them some shirts, cut their hair, find them a new sound over the hoovering-up-a-Joy-Division-record thing they got going and let them know that their first track was fucked up out of time.

I didn’t think a thing such as indie-hardcore could exist, but Philadelphia Grand Jury are all bratty, punchy and catchy at the same time. Backed by a ferocious live punk show, this is magnificent – the only singer I saw venture right into the crowd, past the barriers, into the dance-madness, to deliver a great cover of Jay-Z’s 99 Problems. The people receive them with a hell of a lot more warmth than at their first set, on Friday – perhaps there is hope for South African audiences, I’m just glad it wasn’t Fokof playing…

Maybe that whiny excuse for a voice is exotic to most, but to me, Billy Talent is a cheese-grater to the ear. Red Flag? Really? Is that song about being gay and on your period? “We don’t need you, we don’t need you” – they wail, and fuck, we really don’t. Go back to Canadia and peddle your 2nd rate angry pop crap in some other third world country that will lap it up like it’s Zeppelin. “Thank you AFRICA!” shouts the lead singer – you backward Canadian bastard – the whole continent isn’t cheering you on, only the dumb one percent of its population. Another gem: “I fucking hate snow, you don’t get much of it here do you?”
What a way to connect with the crowd, you dipshit, tune the audience about something most of them have never seen.

I’m on the pavement outside the KFC in Northam, broken and rough and content like I haven’t been in years. A random Oppi casualty walks over, grins and gives me a carton of chips with the words “you look hungry”. The psychosis of the weekend begins to ebb, but the sense of having been a part of something great remains…

All images © Kevin Goss-Ross.

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